My first strong memories of Halloween are of my mum making a huge effort. She would take it on herself to make everything spooky and or orange. For context, she has very pale skin, dark hair, green eyes and was once confused for a witch in a café in Glastonbury (her and my dad went there to buy a sink). So, Halloween is really her time to shine.
Every year she would make pumpkin soup for my sisters and I, and every year we wouldn’t eat it. One year, she made spaghetti bolognese but told us it was worms and blood. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t go down well, and a lot of back-peddling was required. There were eyeball sweets in every bowl, cobwebs and fake spiders – presumably there were also real cobwebs and spiders, but that’s beside the point. The point is it was a holiday that we always marked. But whereas Guy Fawkes and Christmas have taken similar forms throughout my life, Halloween seems to be the holiday that changes the most with your age.
We begin with Halloweens organised by our parents and their friends. The pumpkin-carving, the trick or treating, the costumes are all carefully planned and overseen. Although I must admit that my mum still has a high level of anxiety around pumpkin-carving. When you’re little Halloween is always fun because you don’t have to do anything. You just take the novelty bucket you’re handed, receive copious amounts of sweets and then, when you get tired, you’re taken to bed. Brilliant. I miss the sheer level of excitement I’d get, being out at night knocking on stranger’s doors. If I did that now a lot of people would be very worried about me.
Moving on, and fast forwarding from the early years to the preteens, we have the first Halloween without family. Big moment. I was 12 and my BFFEAE at the time (that means best friend for ever and ever) invited me over to hers. We dressed up as matching vampires, head to toe Primark, complete with red lip and fake blood. What followed was a very strange evening, involving her mum encouraging us to egg houses. All in all, a horrible night. The only consolation was that I tried my first glitter J20.
So, the first family-free Halloween didn’t go as well as I had hoped, not so much a big night out but more of an anxiously aborted sleepover. But things could get better. When I was 13 or 14 the first Halloween party landed. Getting ready with my friend Jess, I felt like a Halloween queen, complete with black Just Beauty lipstick. Key moments from the night included someone throwing a pumpkin at a boy’s head, an ambulance being called and an early exit from Jess and I.
A little older and wiser, at 17 my friends and I went to a Halloween party on a working farm. This night was a little more fun, the black lipstick was replaced by a pink gloss to complete my Baby Spice costume. The thing about letting a group of seventeen-year-olds loose on a farm, however, is that eventually someone will try and climb onto a cow. I realise this observation is quite West Country specific. Apologies.
And finally, the here and now: The Uni Halloween. I don’t need to tell you what this is like, some of you may still be recovering when you read this. Whatever you did, whether it was Silo, House of Horrors or Fright Night, hopefully not all three, I hope you had a great time. I went as a scary fairy, don’t ask me why.
Spending Halloween with one of my oldest friends that has seen me though all these stages, reminded me that we’re still children at heart. Yes, Halloween changes as we get older, but I always get the same childlike excitement. It’s not like any other night out, because you’re not yourself. You can be anything you want. And for some reason I decided to be a scary fairy. Well, there’s always next year.